Start vaccinating children at the earliest, recommends TAC
With the third wave of COVID-19 expected in October-November likely to hit children in greater proportion, the State’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has recommended that Karnataka immediately write to the Centre seeking vaccines for use in children from manufacturers such as Pfizer.
Members of the TAC, who at a meeting on Sunday deliberated on how the State should prepare itself for the next wave, said Karnataka should, on priority, seek from the Centre vaccines recommended for use in children and start vaccinating this vulnerable population at the earliest.
The ongoing second wave is expected to recede by the end of June. Between the first and second waves, there has been a 4% increase in mortality and 43% rise in the number of cases in the 0-9 age group. In the 10-19 age group, a 6% increase in mortality and 60% rise in number of cases has been recorded.
“With vaccination for age groups of 18-44 and 45 and above being taken up, children will be most vulnerable to the infection during the third wave. In the wake of this, the TAC in consultation with the paediatric experts’ group set up by the State for the third wave has recommended that the State should on priority seek vaccines for children,” sources said.
Sources said TAC members on Sunday deliberated in detail the current data of COVID-19 disease, testing, vaccination, the State’s first and second seroprevalence surveys, waning immunity in infected individuals, reinfections, mobility in the districts despite restrictions and lack of COVID-19 appropriate behaviour in the population.
‘Not to be ignored’
Despite the TAC cautioning the government on November 30 about the need to ramp up facilities and be prepared to tackle the second wave, the State was ill-prepared. The State should not ignore experts’ recommendations this time, sources asserted.
According to the report on recommendations for the third wave, a copy of which is with The Hindu, as the next wave of COVID-19 in the State is expected during October-November, the intervening period of four months should be used to ramp up clinical facilities, training and deployment of human resources, and fulfilling other related requirements.
“Special attention should be paid towards meeting the requirements of facilities for clinical management of COVID-19 in children at the Community Health Centres, taluk and district levels. As parents may act as caregivers in the hospitals, this should be factored in the planning for things like PPE kits, N-95 masks, resting facilities in the hospitals, among others,” the report stated.
Besides, sampling for genomic sequencing (for variants of virus) and serology (anti-COVID-19 antibodies) from children should be started immediately. Vulnerable categories in the age group of 18-44, particularly parents of schoolgoing children, should be vaccinated on priority, the report added.